As I wrote about on Monday, today is my Diagnosis Day. I’m not really sentimental about this actual day, and yet this year, I wanted to set it aside, and celebrate. This year, today deserves some attention.
Two years ago, I was so desperate to know what was wrong, and how I could help myself. These longings were the beginning of self-compassion. I knew that I would need to receive my illness, to work with my body, and learn how to live well, while being sick.
I knew my lifestyle was about to change, although I didn’t exactly know how. It meant continuing to slow down, to see the miracle of my body’s healing capacity–when I had lost faith in my body altogether. It seemed like my enemy and daily it worked against my wellbeing. Little did I know, the pain, the fatigue, the inflammation, the brain fog, were all warning signs that my body was out of balance. My body was fighting so hard to keep me alive.
And in this fight to stay alive, I’m learning to receive, rather than strive. To give out of abundance, rather than emptiness. To embrace my limitations, rather than run from them. To be hopeful, that even greater things are down the road.
And so I pass along these lessons. May you receive them, as I have learned to receive them, even if its with reluctance and cynicism (which was often the case with me!)
I’ve learned to receive the nutrients my body needs. I spend much more time cooking and savoring good food.
I’ve learned to receive the invitation to rest. I don’t nap much anymore (I don’t need to!), but I do structure my time in a way that allows for self-care, whether in reading, watching a movie, talking a walk, going to yoga, spending time with a friend, playing with the dog. I’m learning that rushing through life does violence to myself and others.
I’ve learned that my mind only registers thoughts from my heart and my body. I’ve learned to receive the messages my body sends me, and place those messages as a higher priority than my thoughts. I’m learning to strengthen the mind-body connection through centering prayer, meditation, and yoga.
I’ve learned that I don’t really miss out on much if I go to bed early. While this lesson continues to be a difficult one, adequate sleep continues to be a key element in my healing process. While I live counter-culturally in many ways, I’m learning that when I can be present in a social setting, I have much more to give in attention and presence, if I first take care of myself.
I’ve learned to receive the art of balance, both at work and home. I know that working 40 hours per week will be too much for me. And so I work 26-28 hours per week, in a job that I continue to grow to love. I teach students how to thrive despite their own limitations. On weekends, I need plenty of downtime to rest, enjoy time to be creative, and prepare for the week ahead.
I’ve learned to receive help and kindness. It’s difficult to believe in abundance, in the worst seasons of an isolating chronic illness. And yet, there were people right around me who helped with meals, moves, cleaning, doctor appointments, living situations. Some people just listened. Some have taken the risk of learning from me, especially at my worst moments, which gave me a sense of dignity, enough to keep fighting to heal. Some have offered hospitality, and just said, “I’m here” and let me take them up on their offer when I was ready.
I’ve learned to receive my intuition and listen to it carefully. I’m grateful for the healthcare team I have in place, and yet I typically know what’s best. I’m learning not to doubt myself.
I’ve learned to receive my own strength. My drive to live, to heal, and to thrive continues to grow. It’s one of my more beautiful traits. And on those hard days, it’s perfectly okay for my mantra to be, “You’re a bad ass!”
I’ve learned to receive my illness as a gift. I don’t say this lightly because I think suffering is horrific, both my own and others. Yet, through illness my life has been completely deconstructed. This has been a scary and unnerving experience, and yet I have gotten to start over. I get the chance to receive who I truly am, rather what I was trying to make myself into. Striving led to complete exhaustion, while rest and centeredness leads to contentment and peace. I’m on a much better trajectory.
May you and I receive the love hidden in our own stories and right before our eyes.